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Attracting health-conscious diners with clean-label LTOs

Photograph: Shutterstock

In the restaurant world, a limited-time offer is a great way to entice consumers to stop in for a meal. Most of the time, featured LTOs highlight a trending ingredient or format of a food—think Starbucks’ pumpkin-spice lattes or winter-themed desserts, for instance. Less common are LTOs that highlight “clean” ingredients, but operators who want to offer an LTO that’s healthy and natural should still do so. These types of LTOs offer several benefits—in fact, according to Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating report, 40% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase and are willing to pay more for foods that are labeled “clean.”

Trying out new dishes, ingredients and flavors with less risk

Putting a new item on the menu as a permanent item can be stressful—particularly if it’s something with a specific label like clean. By offering the item as an LTO, however, operators can enjoy the convenience of trying out new ingredients or flavors without worrying about long-term success. With an LTO, diners have a limited amount of time to order the dish, at which point the operators can decide whether to keep it on the menu or go back to the drawing board. Corporate Chef, Eddie Moya says, “LTOs are a great option because they allow you to try out new entrees without bearing the cost and commitment of adding them to the menu. If all goes well, you may decide to add an item to your menu, but you’ll be armed with the peace of mind that only tangible results can provide.”

Testing the waters of clean labeling for the brand

For restaurants that may not be known for their healthier options, introducing a clean label or healthy items can be daunting—the current clientele may not be receptive, and operators don’t want to sink a lot of money into a menu item that might not be a hit. But clean label doesn’t have to mean a kale salad topped with superfoods and a spritz of lemon juice instead of dressing.

Instead, clean label simply refers to ingredients that are natural or made without preservatives or artificial colors or sweeteners. What’s more, Technomic’s Healthy Eating report finds that 43% of consumers say they would be more likely to purchase and are willing to pay more for natural fare. For quick-service chains, that could mean offering burgers made with all-natural beef or sandwiches with hormone-free or antibiotic-free chicken.

Moya says, “LTOs also help align your offering with changing consumer expectations. Not sure if buzz words like ‘clean’ and ‘transparency’ will resonate with your customers? LTOs are a great way to test the waters. Offer a salad that’s free of artificial ingredients or a burger that’s made with locally sourced beef and let the results speak for themselves.”

Attracting new customers and retaining current ones

According to Technomic’s 2018 Future of LSR report, 31% of consumers say that if a fast-casual or fast-food restaurant they don’t typically visit offers a unique LTO, they’d be likely to visit to try it. Additionally, Technomic’s recent Future of FSR report finds that 29% of consumers say it’s important for family-style, casual dining and upscale casual dining restaurants to offer new items or LTOs. Moya notes, “LTOs are all about trying new things and getting consumer feedback without the commitment, so remember to get creative and have fun with it. Bring new customers through the doors by offering a rotation of unique and eye-catching promotions.”

New customers and loyal regulars alike all appreciate the effort and time it takes to introduce LTOs. Give consumers what they want—offer clean label LTOs to appeal both to those who want something healthy they feel good about eating, as well as those who just want to try something new and delicious.

This post is sponsored by Litehouse Foodservice

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